The woman accused of killing York's former mayor and attorney Melvin Roberts has a little more freedom.
Judge Derham Cole modified bond restrictions for Julia Phillips, allowing her to leave Cherokee County to attend doctors' appointments in Spartanburg. The change was filed Monday in York County.
Phillips, 67, faces a murder charge in the Feb. 4, 2010, strangulation and beating death of Roberts. Phillips has been confined to her house in Gaffney on electronic monitoring since posting a $75,000 bond in June.
Cole's original bond restrictions do not allow her to leave Cherokee County except for court appearances.
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Cole modified Phillips' bond, allowing her to attend scheduled medical appointments recommended by her physician in Spartanburg, provided she give advance notice to the electronic monitoring agent.
Cole's order is in response to a motion hearing that was scheduled for March 10. Instead of a hearing, Phillips' attorney Bobby Frederick, and 13th Circuit Assistant Solicitor Kris Hodge, met with Cole in the judge's chambers.
Police found Roberts, 79, strangled to death outside his residence. Nearby, Phillips, his girlfriend of 10 years,claimed she had been tied up and robbed. In another motion, Frederick asked the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to produce DNA profiles from a zip tie and duct tape collected from the crime scene.
That information, which falls under evidence that would normally be disclosed before trial, has been turned over, Hodge said.
Phillips was arrested three months after Roberts was found dead outside his house. York Police and SLED agents built a case against Phillips through her changing stories and other evidence.
Prosecutors have said they don't believe Phillips acted alone, but no other suspect has been identified publicly or charged.
Her arrest in the Roberts case prompted the Cherokee County coroner to exhume the body of Phillips' deceased husband, Edward Bryant Phillips. Bryant Phillips died shortly before Julia Phillips and Roberts started dating. Autopsy results have not been released. One of the motions supposed to have been considered March 10 was to compel the release of those autopsy results. But that motion was withdrawn.
The next step is to take the case against Phillips to a grand jury for possible indictment. Cole ruled there was probable cause for the case to proceed to the grand jury in December.
Hodge, who has been assigned to prosecute the case after Phillips' attorney asked 16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett to step aside because he knew Roberts well, said she expects to present the case to the grand jury in the next few months.